Yamaha NX-A01 review: Yamaha NX-A01

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The Good The Yamaha NX-A01 speaker cube is tiny, elegant, affordable, and remarkably powerful for its size.

The Bad Despite its portability, the NX-A01 can't be powered from batteries or USB.

The Bottom Line The Yamaha NX-A01 won us over with its minimal design and sound quality, but don't expect it to blow the roof off.

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7.6 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 6
  • Performance 8

The Yamaha NX-A01 speaker system might look like a cube of tofu, but it's actually a pixel-size powerhouse that cranks out unbelievable sound for its size. Measuring just 3.25 inches square, with a list price of $99 (around $60 street) the Yamaha NX-A01 is a marvel of engineering and a testament to Japanese ingenuity.

Just like an apartment in Tokyo, the Yamaha NX-A01 is both extremely small and incredibly efficient. There are no gee-whiz features on the NX-A01, just an illuminated four-way rocker on the top that controls power, volume, and mute. Likewise, the back side of the NX-A01 has a minimal amount of connections: one jack for the power adapter and one for a stereo minijack cable input (a short cable is included).

The NX-A01's cube shape features two opposing 1-inch titanium driver speakers. If you want to glimpse the secret of the NX-A01's impressive sound, however, you'll have to turn it over. The bottom of the NX-A01 doesn't look like much, but a small half-inch space offers a glimpse of a unique hinged bass port design that pumps out an incredible amount of bass. Unfortunately, the Achilles' heel of this design is that the bass port sounds ghastly when the speaker is overdriven. Keep in mind that the sound quality of the NX-A01 is only remarkable in relation to its size. It's not intended to compete with more robust systems such as the Bose SoundDock or the Altec Lansing iM7.

The coolest feature on the NX-A01 is hidden from sight. The small gap on the bottom of the speaker conceals a hinged door bass port that produces remarkable low-end sound.
If we had our way, we would have made the NX-A01 truly portable by providing the option of battery power. After all, nothing ruins a product's minimalist appeal more than a wall-wart power adapter. If you wanted to go a step further and remove the need for an audio cable, Yamaha does sell a Japan-only accessory for the NX-A01 called the TRX-RO1BT, which is a marshmallow-size wireless stereo Bluetooth receiver that plugs into the NX-A01's audio input. For a less elegant wireless audio solution, you could purchase a product such as the iSkin Cerulean RX. For people using the NX-A01 as a minimal desktop computer speaker, it would be cool to see a version that draws both its power and its audio over USB--but enough daydreaming.

The NX-A01 has a stunning, minimalist aesthetic. We just wish Yamaha could have eliminated the cable mess to make this speaker truly portable.
They don't make them much smaller, cuter, or more minimal than the NX-A01. If you've got a small space in your life that you'd like to fill with music--maybe a desk, a bathroom, or a kitchen--the Yamaha NX-A01 produces remarkably full sound for its size.

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